Dr Meera Varadharajan
Research Fellow

Dr Meera Varadharajan

PhD (Education), University of Technology Sydney (2014)

Business School
Centre for Social Impact

Meera Varadharajan is a Research Fellow (Education) at the Centre for Social Impact at University of New South Wales. She has a lead role in managing and undertaking applied research and social impact projects in the area of education. In 2022, Meera led and completed a series of reports on education inequity. During her time at CSI, she has worked on a range of projects and program evaluations such as on carers' experiences during COVID, evaluation of youth mentoring programs; young indigenous post prison outcomes; support and infrastructure needs in social housing pathways and service innovation during COVID. Meera has also published policy response factsheets during COVID on teacher well-being and home learning considerations for students in vulnerable circumstances.  

As a qualitative researcher, she is passionate about connecting human stories and experiences in projects and program evaluations that serve as an enabler to drive purposeful social change in society. Her core research interests include student and teacher well-being, teacher education, teachers’ lives and educational philosophy.

Meera has experience working in the business and education sector in a wide variety of roles. Meera’s thesis examined the lived experience of career change teachers using an interpretive and phenomenological approach. Her doctoral and subsequent work on career change teachers has been recognised by leading teaching bodies, and she has received several external and internal research grants including from the NSW Department of Education. In 2021, she published a book on career change teachers. 

Meera is also a steering committee member of the Refugee Education Special Interest Group.  

  • Books |
    Varadharajan M, Career Change Teachers Bringing Work and Life Experience to the Classroom, Springer Nature
  • Book Chapters | 2017
    Varadharajan M; Schuck S, 2017, 'Can career changers be game changers? Policy, research and practice concerning career changers', in Teacher Education Policy and Practice: Evidence of Impact, Impact of Evidence, pp. 83 - 95, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-4133-4_6
  • Journal articles | 2022
    Seivwright A; Kaleveld L; Meltzer A; Atkins M; Varadharajan M; Campbell P; Callis Z; Wilson E, 2022, 'Adaptation among aged care and disability service providers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons for the future.', Front Health Serv, 2, pp. 1037256, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/frhs.2022.1037256
    Journal articles | 2021
    Varadharajan M; Carter D; Buchanan J; Schuck S, 2021, 'Career change student teachers: lessons learnt from their in-school experiences', Australian Educational Researcher, 48, pp. 107 - 124, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13384-020-00381-0
    Journal articles | 2020
    Varadharajan M; Buchanan J; Schuck S, 2020, 'Navigating and negotiating: Career changers in teacher education programmes', Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 48, pp. 477 - 490, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1359866X.2019.1669136
    Journal articles | 2018
    Buchanan J; Varadharajan M, 2018, 'Poor understanding? Challenges to global development education', Cosmopolitan Civil Societies, 10, pp. 1 - 25, http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/ccs.v10i1.5756
    Journal articles | 2018
    Schuck S; Aubusson P; Buchanan J; Varadharajan M; Burke PF, 2018, 'The experiences of early career teachers: new initiatives and old problems', Professional Development in Education, 44, pp. 209 - 221, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19415257.2016.1274268
    Journal articles | 2018
    Varadharajan M; Buchanan J; Schuck S, 2018, 'Changing course: The paradox of the career change student-teacher', Professional Development in Education, 44, pp. 738 - 749, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19415257.2017.1423369
    Journal articles | 2016
    Buchanan J; Varadharajan M, 2016, ''Give Me Liberty, or Give Me.. Nice, New, Shiny Things': Global Development Aid Education in Australia', Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, 15, pp. 319 - 336, http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/15691497-12341392
    Journal articles | 2016
    Kirkup L; Varadharajan M; Braun M, 2016, 'A comparison of student and demonstrator perceptions of laboratory-based, inquiry-oriented learning experiences', International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 24, pp. 1 - 13, https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/CAL/article/view/9034
  • Reports | 2023
    Parker R; Yao YS; Varadharajan M; Noone J, 2023, Community Strengthening Evidence Review, NSW Department of Communities and Justice, https://evidenceportal.dcj.nsw.gov.au/documents/community-strengthening-evidence-review/D22_3137528__CSI_Evidence_Review_Report_-_FINAL.pdf
    Reports | 2022
    Varadharajan M; Beuna P; Noone J; Weier M; Brown G, 2022, Amplify Insights: Education Inequity. Part Two: Levers of Change, Centre for Social Impact, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, https://www.csi.edu.au/research/amplify-insights-education-inequity/
    Reports | 2022
    Varadharajan M; Buchanan J, 2022, Retraining and retaining sTEM professionals: what works to address teacher shortages. A literature review report prepared for NSW Department of Education, Centre for Social Impact, UNSW Sydney, Sydney
    Reports | 2021
    Varadharajan M; Beuna P; Muir K; Moore T; Harris D; Barker B; Dakin P; Lowe K; Smith C; Baker S; Piccoli A, 2021, Amplify Insights: Education Inequity. Part One: Drivers of Inequity, Centre for Social Impact, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, https://www.csi.edu.au/research/amplify-insights-education-inequity/
    Reports | 2021
    Weier M; Writer T; Ahearn E; Buena P; Barnes E; Varadharajan M, 2021, GO Foundation Scholarship Assessment Process Review and Recommendations, Centre for Social Impact, UNSW, Sydney, NSW
    Reports | 2020
    Flanagan K; Levin I; Tually S; Varadharajan M; Verdouw J; Faulkner D; Meltzer A; Vreugdenhil A, 2020, Understanding the experience of social housing pathways, 324, http://dx.doi.org/10.18408/ahuri-4118301, http://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/324
    Reports | 2020
    Varadharajan M; Meltzer A; Saunders I; Weier M, 2020, Evaluation of the Youth Frontiers mentoring program
    Reports | 2020
    Varadharajan M; Weier M; Saunders I; Meltzer A, 2020, Evaluation of the Youth Frontiers Mentoring Program, Centre for Social Impact, UNSW, Sydney, NSW
    Theses / Dissertations | 2014
    Varadharajan M, 2014, Understanding the lived experiences of second career beginning teachers, http://hdl.handle.net/10453/29255

My Research Supervision

I have experience in co-supervision for both masters and doctoral students. I am currently a co-supervisor to two doctoral students at UTS who are completing their PhD in education. I have also been a written examiner to masters thesis and examined doctoral students' presentations in their different stages of completion. 

My Teaching

I have experience teaching under-graduate teacher education subject units. Subjects taught: Issues in Education (local and global contexts) and Sociology of Education. 

I have also facilitated and run doctoral student workshops on qualitative research and phenomenology.